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Vicente A. Resto, M.D., Ph.D, F.A.C.S.
University of Texas Medical Branch
Galveston, Texas

Vicente A. Resto, M.D., Ph.D, F.A.C.S.

Vicente Resto, M.D, Ph.D., F.A.C.S., is both a scientist and surgeon, and incredibly engaged in every facet of oncology. He is on what appears to be an endless quest to understand the role genetics and molecular biology play in the development of cancer, and is determined to have a prominent role in the future of cancer treatment.

Resto is Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, Texas. He is also the Co-director, Center for Cancers of the Head and Neck, as well as Associate Professor Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Neurosurgery, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Resto directs a basic science laboratory focused on the study of the molecular mechanisms important for lymphatic metastasis and tumor tolerance. One of the facets of his research is the development of animal models for the study of the lymph node microenvironment.

His clinical focus is head and neck cancer, and the diagnosis and management of lymphatic metastasis in cancer.

Any good scientist and physician like Resto knows that the pursuit of medical science is not for the weak or faint-hearted.

To be a full-time department chair at a major medical university, a surgeon, and a lab scientist, while constantly publishing relevant material is no small feat. Add to it the obligations of being a professor, administrator, scientist, and physician treating advanced cancer patients and you've got enormous stress.

"It can take a toll on your family, your health, and your ability to make correct and moral decisions," he said. "When you take on a job like this, you have to be fully prepared."

Can you multi-task? Can you operate under extreme physiological and mental stress? As you get older, will your health always allow you to intellectually and physically handle many tasks? Can you intellectually keep up with the science? "No matter what seems glamorous, and no matter what tasks and positions you take on, you have to always deliver the goods," he said. "Some people can do it, but most cannot."

Head and neck cancer is one of the most aggressive and challenging cancers to treat. Often times Resto has only one to three weeks after first seeing the patient before he must perform surgery. Surgery alone or combined with radiotherapies appear to be more effective with these cancers than chemotherapy alone.

The 43-year-old physician-scientist was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Resto graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. He subsequently obtained his M.D. in 2000 from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, while concurrently earning a Ph.D. from the university's Human Genetics Graduate Program. In October 1995, Resto received a National Institute of General Medical Sciences Minority Pre-doctoral Fellowship, which enabled him to gain formal doctoral training in human genetics and molecular biology.

Resto pursued an internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by residency training in the Harvard Combined Program in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. In 2006, he completed advanced clinical fellowship training in Head and Neck Oncology, Skull Base, and Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. He joined the full-time faculty at UTMB in July, 2006.

Resto has been the recipient of eight federal and major institute grants/fellowships, including a K08 Mentored Career Development Award from the National Cancer Institute. He use the K08 to conduct research on the physiologic study of lymphatic metastasis.

"The K08 played a pivotal role in my present day understanding of molecular biology, fluid dynamics, and the role of the lymphatic system in cancer metastasis, as well as honed my skills both as a scientist and a surgeon," Resto said.

Resto is also proud that as Chair of his department he presently has three K08 recipients and one KL2 recipient among his staff.

He has written articles for more than 28 peer-reviewed journals, 15 book chapters, and numerous other publications. In addition, he has three medical articles that will soon be published in peer-reviewed journals reporting research ranging from racial disparities in salivary gland cancer outcomes to high-resolution imaging of lymphatic metastases in vivo.

Click here to watch a video of Resto at the University of Texas.

To learn more about CURE awards, go to http://crchd.cancer.gov/training/cure-overview.html.

Updated: 01/10/14